Henry the Seventh by James Gairdner (pub. 1899)
HENRY VII. AND CASTILE
HENRY was still compelled to keep a watchful eye on the remaining branches of the House of York. True, all the male line of that family was extinct by the death of the Earl of Warwick. But the house of De la Pole, which had been disappointed by the overthrow of Richard III., not only of a prospect of the throne, but of high foreign alliances besides, still created some uneasiness. Its head, John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, who had married Edward IV.'s sister, had been dead many years. Not being of the blood-royal himself, he had never given offence, and had been treated by Henry with every mark of confidence, even after his son, the Earl of Lincoln, had taken part with Simnel. But the family estate was so reduced by Lincoln's attainder that when the second son, Edmund de la Pole, succeeded to the dukedom of Suffolk, he was glad to make a compromise with the king and content himself with the title of earl instead, on the restoration of some of the confiscated lands. Still he seems to have nursed his discontent in secret. He was a man of violent temper, and though he had studied at Oxford, was illiterate to a degree far beyond the ordinary standard of the nobility of those days. He was, however, expert in tournaments, and had various showy qualities, for which he was admitted to the order of the Garter. He had, moreover, done good service at Blackheath, and the king showed so much regard for him as even to visit him once at his own house at Ewelme.
But in 1498 he killed a man in a fury, and being indicted for the homicide, he received the king's pardon. He seems, however, to have felt it an indignity that he was drawn into the king's Court at all. After brooding over the matter for some time, he escaped in July next year over sea to Calais, or rather to Guines, where Sir James Tyrell was then captain. But Henry soon after, sending two ambassadors to the Archduke Philip, instructed them in passing through Calais to use every possible persuasion to induce him to return; and their arguments were so successful that he did come back, and was again received into favour, insomuch that he followed the king to Calais in 1500, and was present at his meeting with the Archduke Philip. But in August next year, about three months before the marriage of Prince Arthur, he escaped abroad again, along with his brother Richard, and found his way to the Court of the Emperor Maximilian in the Tyrol. A sympathising friend had informed the emperor that the Earl of Suffolk meant to recover what he called his right to the Crown, declaring that many of Henry's subjects were disgusted with his "murders and tyrannies," which no doubt referred particularly to the death of Warwick and partly, perhaps, to the extortions of Empson and Dudley. And Maximilian, with his usual imprudence, had at once declared that if Suffolk would only come to him, he would assist him to obtain the object of his ambition.
The sympathising friend was Sir Robert Curzon, a man who lived many years afterwards, when he was restored to favour, in tolerably good repute, apparently, both with the king and with his successor Henry VIII. But at this time, and for a year or two afterwards, he was naturally under a cloud. He seems to have been a man of old chivalric feeling, and two years before Suffolk's flight he had obtained leave of the king to quit his post as Captain of Hammes Castle, near Calais, and fight against the infidels. He had accordingly given his services to Maximilian, whose territories were harassed by the Turk, and so highly were these esteemed that he was created by his new master a baron of the empire. It was probably owing to this that in his own country he was, in later days, frequently called Lord Curzon, for there is no record of his creation as an English peer. After a time he returned to England, and not only was his offence overlooked, but he received a pension of £400 a year from the Crown. Thus Henry had pretty good security that indignation at Warwick's execution would not tempt him to break his allegiance a second time.
It was thought by many, and is even stated in chronicles, that Curzon only played the part that Clifford had played before him, and that when, soon after Suffolk's second flight, the earl and he and five other persons were denounced at Paul's Cross as the king's enemies, it was only to give Suffolk the better assurance that his friend was not betraying him. I believe that this is a mistake, as I find that some persons who stood security for Curzon's fidelity as Captain of Hammes actually forfeited their recognisances four years after Suffolk's flight; and so far as one can judge of Curzon's character by later correspondence, he does not seem to have been a double-dealer. Henry's suspicions, in fact, were seriously roused, and the chief friends and near relations of Suffolk were immediately put under arrest. These were his brother, Lord William de la Pole; Lord William Courtenay, son of the Earl of Devonshire, who had married his cousin Katharine, daughter of Edward IV.; Sir James Tyrell, the captain of Guines, once the too faithful adherent of Richard III.; and Sir John Wyndham. The suspicions against the two Lords William seem to have arisen merely out of their relationship to Suffolk and their connection with the House of York. For this cause, although both were imprisoned all Henry's days, Lord William Courtenay was liberated on Herny VIII.'s accession, and the rigour of Lord William de la Pole's confinement was relaxed. But Sir James Tyrell and Sir John Wyndham were executed for treason. The charge against the former, of course, was for having received the Earl of Suffolk on his first fiight at Guines and given him some encouragement. But to obtain his arrest the whole army of Calais had to besiege Guines Castle, and even then, it was said, he only consented to come out on pledges for his security in coming and going, which of course were afterwards violated. He deserved, however, but little pity. It does not seem to have been known till he was condemned to die how deeply he was implicated (as an accessory) in a much more grievous crime -- the murder of Edward V. and his brother.
These measures effectually prevented any outbreak at home. Henry's policy, besides, in requiring bonds and securities for every position of trust, joined to his continued watchfulness, naturally inclined all men who had anything to lose to become firm supporters of his government. Suffolk, on the other hand, had little reason to congratulate himself on the result of relying on Maximilian's promises. The emperor, indeed, received him as a kinsman, but hesitated at first to make good his word, on account of the amity between Henry and his son the archduke. Again, however, he would consider the matter carefully, and after keeping Suffolk at his Court for six weeks, he promised him the services of a German count with 4000 foot and 600 horse, and sent him to Aix-la-Chapelle with letters to the Council of that town to make further arrangements. The emperor also said he would obtain from Denmark shipping for an invading force. No effectual aid, however, was forthcoming. Repeated messages only brought new excuses for the non-fulfilment of imperial promises, till Maximilian was fain to suggest that Suffolk should apply to the King of France, or even endeavour to make peace with Henry, in which he promised to be his intercessor, seeing that he was about to make peace with Henry himself. He had good reason to do so, for on the day that he ratified the treaty he also signed an acquittance for a sum of £10,000, received from the King of England to enable him to maintain war against the Turks. Money was a thing Maximilian had always much difficulty in procuring, and for a substantial sum like this it was no wonder that he should undertake not to receive any English rebels henceforth.
The Spanish ambassador in Germany was also instructed by Ferdinand to press for Suffolk's expulsion or extradition; but the exile made a timely escape, and after a vain effort to obtain assistance from the count palatine, entered the territory of Gueldres with the view of passing through it to George, Duke of Saxony, in Friesland. He had by this time not only lost a fine estate in England, but had been obliged to leave his brother Richard behind him at Aix-la-Chapelle as a hostage for payment of his debts. To crown all, in Gelderland he was shut up in prison by the duke, and only set at liberty on payment of 2000 florins, which a Spanish merchant at Antwerp was found willing to advance for him. He then, by the duke's connivance, managed to collect a band of about 6000 foot, not ostensibly under his leadership. The duke evidently thought he could make use of him in some way, and if he could do no more, compel the King of England to pay a handsome price for his delivery. But in 1505, on a peace being made between Gueldres and the Archduke Philip, who had ere this become King of Castile by the death of his mother Isabella, he was delivered up into the hands of Philip; and there we must leave him for the present.
Henry's alliance with Spain, cemented by the marriage of Arthur with Katharine, was not materially weakened by the death of the former; and though he declined to comply with the demand for the restoration of the dowry or to send Katharine back to Spain, he intended to make the Spanish sovereigns feel quite as much as heretofore that his interests were theirs. The retention of Katharine in England gave him an advantage. Isabella had proposed, as we have seen, her marriage with Prince Arthur's brother. But next year Henry, finding himself a widower, made a monstrous counter-proposal to marry her himself. It seems hardly conceivable in these days how the same man who had comforted his queen, and been comforted by her in their joint affliction on the death of their first-born, could, immediately on that queen's death, suggest anything so repulsive as a match with his own daughter-in-law. Not that, as regards mere affinity, it was worse than Katharine marrying her husband's brother; but it was an outrage upon nature both in respect to difference of age and the fact that Henry was now Katharine's natural protector. Isabella was deeply shocked, and was now more anxious than ever that even if a betrothal with the second son had been already concluded, Katharine should come home without more delay, for it was no longer honourable, she said, for her to remain in the country under such protection.
Still, it was obviously not an easy matter to get Katharine at once out of Henry's hands, and Isabella, to divert him from the project he had laid before her, suggested to him another match in place of it. The lady was a niece of her own, or rather of her husband's, Joanna, widow of Ferdinand II. of Naples, who was called the young Queen of Naples to distinguish her from her mother, another Joanna, widow of Ferdinand I. These two ladies lived together at Valencia Henry did not reject the proposition, but kept it for some time under consideration. As to Katharine, however, he at last concluded a treaty for her marriage with his second son, in which the Spanish sovereigns renounced all claim to re-demand the first instalment of her dowry, and promised to pay the remainder within ten days after the new marriage should be solemnised. A special dispensation had to be procured from Rome for a case of so near affinity, but after some delay a bull for the purpose was sent to Spain to comfort Isabella, then on her deathbed. She died on the 26th of November 1504.
Her death at once made a great change in the position of Ferdinand -- how great a change was at first a matter of speculation. But it was clear that the kingdoms of Castile and Arragon had only been united by his marriage with Isabella; so that by the order of descent the former belonged now not to him, but to his daughter Joanna, the wife of the Archduke Philip, and she would convey the Crown to her husband. Philip and Joanna were, in fact, at once proclaimed King and Queen of Castile by Ferdinand's own orders; but he still claimed a right to administer the kingdom and to receive its revenues while he lived, in accordance with the will of Isabella, which had been approved by the Cortez. For as to Joanna it was well known that she was weak in mind and could not govern except through her husband; while Philip was a foreigner, and could not be expected to understand the Spaniards. Nevertheless several of the nobles of Castile were anxious to emancipate themselves from Ferdinand's control, who had persistently endeavoured, like Henry in England, to depress their order; and they kept up a correspondence with Philip in the Low Countries, to induce him to hasten his coming to his new kingdom.
All this Henry marked attentively, or was anxious to inquire into. So, as the Spanish sovereigns had for some time been pressing for a new treaty of alliance against France, he sent next year three gentlemen on a special mission to Ferdinand, to deliver to him a copy of his own proposals on that subject, and press for an answer. But this was evidently a mere pretext, and not the main object of their mission; which was to ascertain, in conversation with any Spanish grandees or statesmen they should come across, what authority the King of Arragon now possessed in the realm of Castile, and what degree of favour his subjects, especially the great nobles, bore him; what likelihood there was of Philip and Joanna's coming, and whether, if they came, Ferdinand's authority or theirs was likely to be most regarded; also, whether he had secure hold of the realm of Naples. In short, the ambassadors were to investigate as thoroughly as they could all the elements of Ferdinand's strength and weakness. But they had also another set of instructions, under which, making rather a circuitous route to Ferdinand's court, for which they made a plausible excuse on their arrival, they paid a visit to the young Queen of Naples at Valencia, collected information about her circumstances, and took a number of observations about her stature, complexion, and the like, in reply to a set of interrogatories by no means delicate, which, however, showed Henry's extreme anxiety to be fully informed as to her personal attractions. In these matters the report was highly favourable. But her jointure in Naples was confiscated, and Henry soon turned his thoughts another way.
Meanwhile he was taking good care not to allow himself, as in days of old, to be bound to Ferdinand more than Ferdinand was bound to him. Although it had been arranged by treaty that the marriage of Henry, Prince of Wales, and Katharine was to take effect as soon as the former attained the age of fourteen, provided only that it could be shown that the remaining instalments of the marriage portion were in London ready to be delivered, Henry, for still better security, caused his son to make a formal protest against the match as an arrangement made without his consent while he was under marriageable age, and which he did not mean to carry out. This protest was made before witnesses in a room in Richmond Palace, but no diplomatic use seems to have been made of it afterwards; it was evidently a thing which could be pleaded or withdrawn at will, and Henry had no occasion to resort to it. The money from Spain was not forthcoming, and Ferdinand only promised that he would send it when the prince was fifteen years complete, when he had previously intimated that it was to be paid a year earlier. Henry, however, had already received one-half and could afford to wait. Katharine was not so comfortable, for though Ferdinand had sent her to England with gold and jewels valued at 35,000 scudos, which was to make up part of the value of what was still to be paid, De Puebla was instructed for that very reason to see to its safe custody and not allow her to spend it. The result was that four years after her landing in England she complained that she had not had a single penny allowed her except for food. Her father apparently had determined to throw the bur den of her support upon Henry, while Henry conceived that full provision ought to have been made for her by Ferdinand. And so she remained for years in a painful state of destitution, unable even to reward her attendants for their services and enable them to buy clothes.
Early in 1506 a great piece of good fortune fell in Henry's way. In January Philip and Joanna set sail from Zealand for their new kingdom of Castile. In the Channel they met with a violent storm, which dispersed their fleet and compelled them to land at Melcombe Regis, opposite Weymouth, in Dorsetshire. They could not but notify their case to Henry, who at once invited them to his Court, showed them every possible attention, invested Philip with the order of the Garter, and got him to sign a treaty of alliance and amity; in consequence of which a few days after Philip felt himself obliged to surrender the fugitive Earl of Suffolk into Henry's hands. It is said that he first extracted from Henry a promise to spare his life, and that Henry detained him in England until the prisoner was fetched from Flanders. The former statement appears to have some foundation in fact, though the treaty of alliance which he had signed compelled Philip to surrender all English rebels unconditionally; and Suffolk, being consigned to the Tower, remained there unharmed all Henry's days, but was beheaded early in the succeeding reign, apparently without any further trial. But the second statement is certainly wrong; for Philip took his leave of Henry at the beginning of March, and Suffolk was not brought over till the end of the month. His surrender, however, was but a small part of the advantages gained by Henry from Philip's landing on his coast. Another treaty was arranged before the two kings parted, although it was dated 30th April, some weeks after Philip had left England, for regulating commercial intercourse between Henry's subjects and the Flemings; which was so greatly to the advantage of the former that it was called in the Netherlands the Intercursus Malus, in contradistinction to the treaty of 1496, which was named the Intercursus Magnus.
Nor was this all. Henry had formed a design of marrying Philip's sister, the Archduchess Margaret, a widow of about seven-and-twenty, who had had two husbands already -- the first (who has been mentioned before) Prince John of Spain, eldest son of Ferdinand and Isabella; the second Philibert, Duke of Savoy. Her father, Maximilian, had already sent a power to conclude the marriage treaty, and the matter was conveniently settled in London between ambassadors of Maximilian, Philip, and Henry, while Philip was still in England. Now, as Philip had left Margaret behind him to take care of the Low Countries in his absence, this marriage would have placed the government of those countries in Henry's hands, besides putting at his disposal the lady's jointure alike in Spain and in Savoy. But Margaret herself showed decided opposition to it, and the project, though it was kept alive for years, was for a brief time dropped in favour of another matrimonial scheme which presently became possible by Philip's death, an event which took place in September following, only three months after his landing in Castile.
No sooner was this event known in England than Henry wrote to Ferdinand, with whom of course he was outwardly on the most amicable terms, offering to marry his widowed daughter Joanna. Henry doubtless knew very well that even before this time the lady had shown unmistakable symptoms of insanity; but that did not deter him from a political match which would have handed over to him the government of Castile. Such being his aim, he could scarcely have expected Ferdinand cordially to advance his suit, however willing he expressed himself to do so, although he succeeded -- shameful to relate -- in inducing Katharine to write to her father in behalf of this unnatural project. For it seems that poor Katharine saw no hope of relief from the poverty and discomfort in which she lived except in the speedy accomplishment of her own marriage, which she saw was delayed by differences that had arisen between her father and her father-in-law; and she begged that her father would at least humour the King of England until her own interests were secured. But Ferdinand's ambassador, De Puebla, went even further; he was convinced that Henry would not interfere with Ferdinand's regency in Castile, and suggested that the match would even be for his master's interest, for if the lady's insanity were incurable it would be just as well that she should live in England, whereas, on the other hand, her best chance of recovering from it would be by marriage with such a king as Henry. And as for the view taken in England, he wrote that none of the English councillors thought much of her malady, as it was not of a kind to prevent her bearing children!
Ferdinand, whatever his private opinion was, had made no other objection to Henry's proposal than that he was not sure if his daughter was inclined to marry again at all; if she did it should be with no other than the King of England. But the project must be kept quiet, for Joanna was wilful and not easily managed. Henry no doubt saw that the game of excuses could easily be carried on indefinitely in this case, and it would seem that he was only trying to throw Ferdinand off his guard while maturing other designs with the same object. Joanna was not given up, but his old proposal to Margaret of Savoy was pressed again, while at the same time he distinctly told Katharine that he was no longer bound to marry her to the Prince of Wales, seeing that her father had failed to remit the marriage portion as stipulated in the treaty. The French king, he knew, would be only too glad to offer the Prince of Wales the sister of Francis, Duke of Angouleme -- a match that had been spoken about before; and Henry for his part started a new project, which it was not in the power of Ferdinand to interfere with, for a marriage between his daughter Mary and Philip's son Charles, Prince of Castile, afterwards the great Emperor Charles V.
In connection with this marriage project Bacon mentions a "tradition in Spain, though not with us," that Ferdinand, though the match was suggested by himself originally, began to be jealous that Henry aspired to the government of Castile, as administrator during the minority of his son-in-law. But although he knew that the nobles of Castile were impatient of Ferdinand's government, Bacon thought it improbable that Henry could have cherished a design so far-reaching and adventurous. Bacon, unfortunately, had not access to the Spanish State papers of the period, or he would have seen, as the reader has seen already, that this was not the first project conceived by Henry which was likely to have such a result. He would also have found pretty sufficient evidence that, while friendly relations were still maintained, Henry had lost much of his old regard for Ferdinand; and probably he would have found reason to believe that this was so even at the time of Philip's visit to England. Indeed all the evidence we have relating to that event tends to show that Henry, instead of being, as Bacon informs us, merely polite to Philip, while cordially maintaining his alliance with Ferdinand, was, on the contrary, very cordial to Philip and merely polite to Ferdinand. His experience of the King of Arragon in past times had not been such as to inspire him with a deep sense of gratitude, and if he did not actually seek to supplant him in the government of Castile, he certainly meant to show him how easily he could be supplanted. There were, in fact, very alarming rumours spread abroad in Spain that Henry not only intended to lay claim to the government of Castile, but was collecting a fleet for the purpose of landing in the country. Ferdinand himself, though he probably looked upon this as an exaggerated alarm, did not think it advisable to treat it altogether with contempt, but raised troops and got ready vessels to protect the coast. It is pitiful to think of the straits and difficulties, the alarms and apprehensions, the ignoble devices and diplomatic meanness to which the once great King of Arragon had been reduced ever since he lost his hold upon Castile by the death of Isabella. For, first, to strengthen himself against Philip he had quite reversed all his former policy. He had made an alliance with France, married a French princess, and bought off the French claims on Naples so as to have an undivided sovereignty at least in southern Italy. Recalled to Spain by Philip's death, he did not find Castile more manageable in consequence of what he had done. He was in straits for money. He had probably (for his excuse be it said) real difficulty in sending even the tardy and inadequate remittances which he actually did send to relieve his daughter in England from painful pecuniary embarrassment. But for a time he gave up all thoughts of fulfilling the necessary condition for the completion of her marriage by sending to England the second instalment of her dowry; and it was said he had even told the French king that he did not expect the marriage to come off at all.
Nor perhaps would he have done anything to advance it, whatever his daughter suffered, if he could have dealt with Henry as he dealt with Louis XII. It is recorded that, on hearing of a complaint made by the latter that he had cheated him once, Ferdinand promptly answered, "He lied, the drunkard! I cheated him three times." Such an achievement was to the Catholic king a highly creditable piece of diplomacy; but he could make no similar boast as regards Henry. He only succeeded in compelling the King of England for a time to relieve Katharine's urgent necessities, so that she was able, by Henry's help, to prevent her servants going about in rags. But it was no concern of Henry's to advance her marriage if Ferdinand did not fulfil the necessary terms. He seemed, in fact, to have had enough of Ferdinand's alliance, and to be cultivating that of Maximilian instead; for though he had not given up his suit for the hand of Joanna, he really cared nothing about it, and was renewing his old overtures to Margaret of Savoy, while the proposed match of Prince Charles of Castile with his daughter Mary was received with favour on both sides.
Matters, in fact, looked very serious for Ferdinand. Either of the two marriages which Henry had in view was against his interest; for the first would have put at the King of England's command the resources of the Low Countries, the second the government of Castile. And when to either or both of these advantages was to be added the friendship, or even the neutrality of France, it was clear that an alienated England would be a most dangerous power. For though Maximilian and Louis XII. were not on the best of terms, both seemed anxious to retain Henry's friendship, and Henry was no less anxious to preserve theirs. He therefore, notwithstanding his suit to Margaret of Savoy, gave no encouragement to her envoy, the Provost of Cassel, whom she sent to England to demand his armed interposition to protect Flanders from aggression on the part of France and Gueldres. He thought Flanders would do better to make peace with France, which was far too strong to be successfully resisted; but he told the Provost of Cassel that he could suggest to the emperor a course much more for his advantage, which would not only settle the difficulty about Gueldres, but make him really the most formidable potentate in Europe. For if Maximilian would be guided by his advice he could show him how, as guardian of his grandson Prince Charles, he might wrest the administration of Castile out of Ferdinand's hands. The mode in which this was to be done, he intimated to the ambassador, was a thing which he could not commit to paper: he would only confide it to Maximilian himself in secret at a personal interview. But the emperor might be assured that he was not suggesting anything impracticable, and he only wished that the emperor never embarked on expeditions which had been less carefully planned and considered beforehand than this.
Words like these, coming from a king of Henry's repute for wisdom, and addressed to such an ambassador as George de Theimseke, Provost of Cassel -- a statesman of whose learning and judgment Sir Thomas More, having had conferences with him a few years later in the Netherlands, gives a very high estimate in his Utopia -- were not mere idle breath. The ambassador was strongly impressed with the importance of the communication, although the plan which Henry had in view was kept secret even from himself. He doubtless had some faint surmises on the subject; and it is clear that months before the conversation referred to, Ferdinand himself had become keenly alive to the possibility of a dangerous confederacy of other powers against him. For in the first place Henry had made a league with Maximilian and Prince Charles of Castile for mutual defence (21st December 1507), and at the same time had made a treaty for the marriage of Prince Charles to his daughter Mary; and secondly, about the same time Maximilian had made a league with France. Ferdinand was evidently very much alarmed; and he at once sent to England Gutierre Gomez de Fuensalida, one of the ablest negotiators in Spain, with the remainder of the money that was to be paid for the Princess Katharine's dowry.
He anticipated, and with perfect justice, that Henry had now so great an advantage over him as to be able to dictate his own terms if the marriage was to take place at all. For Henry refused to accept the money offered, saying that he was no longer bound to take it in the form originally agreed, -- indeed he was no longer bound by the treaty at all, since the time of payment stipulated had so long gone by. And so one by one he wrung from Ferdinand a number of concessions that he had refused to make before. The whole of the dowry must be paid in coin; it must be handed over to himself, and Ferdinand must absolutely renounce any such claim as he put forward after Arthur's death to have it restored to him under any circumstances whatsoever. Finally, when these two demands had been conceded, Henry insisted that Ferdinand must ratify the treaty for the marriage of Prince Charles and the Princess Mary; otherwise the marriage between the Prince of Wales and Katharine would not even yet take place. In short, he must give his sanction to the very means Henry was using to supplant his government in Castile.
Ferdinand was intensely irritated. This last demand was beyond endurance, but how it was to be met was not an easy question even for so astute a diplomatist as himself. His ambassador, Fuensalida, too, had an un comfortable time of it, and complained that he was treated with positive discourtesy at Henry's court; while his subjects at home were indignant that he should allow his daughter to remain in England when no arrangement was made for her living there under honourable conditions. Yet he durst not quarrel with Henry, and had no means of fetching his daughter away without Henry's consent. He must be on his guard, too, lest the King of England should overreach him in diplomacy at foreign Courts; for he could not but have uncomfortable suspicions as to what was going on there. He was, however, tolerably sure of France; as for the needy Maximilian, he was happily fickle, else so good a paymaster as Henry would certainly have bound him fast in everything to the interests of England. But Maximilian was at this time led away by another weakness. He hated Venice, which the year before had given him an inglorious repulse in seeking to pass into Italy to receive his crown as emperor; and he fell a victim to the devices of the Cardinal d'Amboise, the wily minister of Louis XII., who was endeavouring to smooth the way for another descent on Italy by his master. The two rivals, in fact, were to make common cause. Venice had become in different ways offensive to them both; and they were coming to a secret agreement, in which Ferdinand of Arragon and the warlike Pope Julius II. were pledged to join them, to divide a considerable share of the Venetian territory among themselves.
It was no part of Henry's policy, even if he knew all that was going on, to meddle in any way with this iniquitous compact, which was finally concluded at Cambray on the 10th of December 1508. A treaty about Gueldres arranged at the same time served as a cloak for the more mischievous agreement. Henry had his own objects, which the selfishness and narrowness of the confederates rather assisted than hindered. But he knew something of their doings, and it suited his own interests to give a word of advice beforehand to the principal dupe. Maximilian, indeed, never found a convenient opportunity for the personal interview Henry had proposed to him; but it is not unlikely that Henry, nevertheless, found the means of communicating either to him or to his daughter, Margaret of Savoy, a good part of the secret he had hinted at. For the English ambassador in the Low Countries, Sir Edward Wingfield, urged Margaret, who was to be the leading negotiator for the emperor at Cambray (the league, in fact, was said to be her work, as the real author of it no doubt desired it should be reputed), to endeavour as much as possible to break up the alliance between Ferdinand and the King of France, as that was the only thing which enabled the former to maintain his hold upon Castile, of which kingdom, if he had no longer such support, he would be obliged to resign the government to Maximilian as guardian for his infant grandson Prince Charles. Of course if Maximilian, acting on such advice, had ever really obtained the government of Castile, he would have practically handed it over to his adviser Henry; for, as Bacon truly remarks with relation to this contingency, "as for Maximilian, upon twenty respects he could not have been the man."
There was another English envoy besides Wingfield engaged in these delicate communications with the Archduchess Margaret. Henry had discovered before this the marvellous diplomatic ability of Thomas Wolsey, afterwards the great cardinal and for a long time sole minister of his son. It seems to have been about this time that he was sent on that memorable mission to Flanders Cavendish says to the emperor, then staying at a short distance from Calais) which he accomplished with such astonishing celerity as to have returned to Richmond on the third night after his despatch. We know at least that an envoy did return from Calais with remarkable celerity in the beginning of August 1508, and we know also that Wolsey was at Mechlin in October engaged in negotiating not only for the king's marriage with Margaret, but also for bringing the government of Castile into Henry's hands. But this was not the first time he had given proof of his diplomatic skill; for in the beginning of the same year Henry had sent him into Scotland, where he had done excellent service in remonstrating with the King of Scots, and at the same time preventing a rupture with England which a French faction there had been very anxious to promote. For in 1505 James had solemnly promised that he would not renew the old league with France against England, and yet now, on some very slender pretext, he was on the point of doing so, and last year he had sent an embassy to France, consisting of the Earl of Arran and his brother Sir Patrick Hamilton, who passed through England in disgiuse to the court of Louis XII. This irregularity Henry would not allow them to repeat, but caused a gentleman named Hugh Vaughan to meet them in Kent on their return and conduct them up to London, where they were detained for some time and not permitted to pursue their journey home (though they were feasted by the mayor and sheriffs, and allowed to visit the king himself) until satisfactory explanations had been made, and the peace of the two kingdoms thoroughly assured by the result of Wolsey's mission.
His negotiations in Flanders do not seem to have been quite so successful, though he acquitted himself in that delicate mission entirely to Henry's satisfaction. The despatches relating to them are so mutilated that we cannot quite follow the whole course of the proceedings; but we find Wolsey complaining of the difficulty of fixing the agents of Maximilian and his daughter to their promises, so that real and substantial progress was hardly to be looked for. Henry had been willing, if the marriage could have been arranged, to reside at times in the Low Countries for their more efficient government; or he would have agreed, if desired, that the administration should still be carried on in the name of Margaret only. He was willing to hear all objections, and to meet them in any reasonable way. But it was in vain to hope for anything definite from people who were perpetually changing their minds. Maximilian and his councillors were much more intent on concluding the secret league against Venice; and as to the policy of separating France and Arragon, the hint does not seem ever to have been taken up. Henry accordingly was left to pursue his own game.
But one thing was fixed already, and he did not mean to let slip his advantage there. The marriage between his daughter Mary and the Prince of Castile having been already arranged by treaty, Lord Berghes was sent over to England, on the part of Maximilian and Charles, to celebrate it by proxy; and so, after the manner of the times, the boy of eight was married to the girl of twelve (as far as such a thing could be) with great rejoicings and celebrations in London, where the event was looked upon as the confirmation of an old and lasting friendship, bringing the royal line of England once more into close relations with the house of Austria. The celebration took place at Richmond on the l7th of December -- just a week after the secret treaty against Venice had been concluded at Cambray. Four days later -- it deserves to be noted how the wheels were greased -- the agents of Maximilian and Prince Charles handed over to Henry in pawn a jewel called "the rich fleur-de-lis" for a sum of 50,000 crowns in gold. Nobody ever settled anything with Maximilian without ready money.
Even this proxy marriage must have been a bitter pill to Ferdinand; for Henry was still to all appearance on the way to win and wrest Castile out of his hands. But it was not to be; for the enemy whom none can resist was now close upon Henry's footsteps, and he had but four months to live.